During a divorce, there are significant pros and cons to being an only child. Although an only child doesn’t have to deal with sibling rivalry that can sometimes worsen during a divorce, he or she does miss out on the chance to relate to brothers and sisters who are also dealing with this major change to the family. Follow these do's and don'ts when helping your only child through the divorce.
If your child has friends who have also been through a divorce, you may want to encourage your child to confide in those friends. Just talk to the other children's parents first to be sure that's okay! Kids who have been through a divorce may find it empowering to share their experiences with their peers.
An only child needs to be reassured of each parent's love throughout the divorce. As the changes in lifestyle and sometimes geography occur, an only child may get especially nervous. After all, in a one-child family, the child has come to rely on two family members, so having only one in the house on a full-time basis can be confusing and frustrating.
It can also feel lonely for some kids who are used to being around both parents at the same time. Talk to your ex about the importance of reassuring your child of your love when you aren't around. Offer to do the same for your ex. Part of finding your way as divorced co-parents will be making tough choices that are in the best interests of the child.
Be frank and honest during the divorce so that your child knows it's safe to trust your word. Unfortunately, parents sometimes over-promise during a divorce because of guilt. However, if you're not sure you can make it to an event in the child's life, don't promise you will be there. A child can be especially sensitive during the divorce, and it can be hurtful when hopes are dashed.
Similarly, don't encourage your little one to wish that you and your ex will get back together. Although divorcing parents sometimes leave things open-ended and tell their kids that the future is unpredictable, doing this can lead to long-term damage. While the dream of a reunited family may provide temporary solace, kids can get hurt when they cling to false hope.
There are a lot of factors you won't be able to control during the divorce. However, you will find that certain things are within your control. You may not be able to control whether or not your ex shows up for visitation when he or she is supposed to be there, but you can create a backup plan. That way, you won't be left scrambling, and your child won't be left with as much pain if your ex is a no-show.
A backup plan can be something as simple as having a fun-loving babysitter's phone number on speed dial or tickets to the local museum you can use anytime. Going on a fun outing with your child can take the sting out of the disappointment he or she would otherwise face.
Keep in mind that offering your support and love is the most important part of helping your only child through a divorce. If you are considering a divorce, reach out to the caring attorneys at Cotto Law Firm P.C. who are happy to help with a variety of family law matters